Air Force:

Assessment of DOD's Report on Plan and Capabilities for Evaluating Heavy Bombers

NSIAD-94-99: Published: Jan 10, 1994. Publicly Released: Jan 10, 1994.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD): (1) plan for evaluating the operational effectiveness of B-52H and B-1B bombers in conventional missions; and (2) capability to carry out survivability and operational flight testing of these bombers.

GAO found that: (1) the DOD evaluation plan does not address key issues regarding the B-1B aircraft's operational effectiveness; (2) the plan's key operational evaluation factors include mission planning and the ability of heavy bombers to deploy, perform long duration sorties, penetrate air defenses, and employ conventional weapons; (3) DOD officials purposely decided not to answer the key issues raised in the plan about the B-1B and believe the plan should be used as a guide; (4) deployability is the key issue in the DOD plan and its resolution will provide for more informed decisions on upgrading the B-1B bomber and defining the future conventional roles of the B-52 and B-2 aircraft; and (5) although DOD is capable of designing realistic flight tests to determine the survivability and operational effectiveness of proposed B-1B and B-52H aircraft modifications, flight tests cannot duplicate all known threat systems because of the lack of advanced threat air defense systems in the test resource inventory and the large amount of possible threat postures and configurations.

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